Health officials in Prince George’s County, Maryland, are investigating a case of tuberculosis that was identified at Bladensburg High School.
Tuberculosis is a potentially serious infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs, and people who may have been exposed are being notified by mail.
“Approximately 200 people may have been exposed to this case,” said Angela Crankfield-Edmond, program chief for the county health department’s communicable and vector-borne disease control program.
Crankfield-Edmond answered questions during a Wednesday evening meeting at the school.
The case was first identified Oct. 24, and some parents wondered why it took two weeks for them to hear about it.
“As part of our investigation, it takes some time to gather all the information as for the closest contacts and who needs to be tested,” Crankfield-Edmond said.
She said there was no risk at the school currently.
“They did some deep cleaning at the school as a precautionary measure,” Crankfield-Edmond said. “It isn’t something that is required because the TB bacteria is not picked up from surfaces.”
Tuberculosis bacteria are spread through the air from one person to another. The Health Department’s Tuberculosis Control Program said on its website that “TB-infected persons can develop latent (hidden) TB infection or TB disease.”
Also from the program:
Those with latent TB (infected but do not have symptoms):
- Are not sick as the germs are not active
- Can develop the disease in the future unless they receive treatment, and
- Cannot spread the TB germs to others.
Those with TB disease:
- Usually sick as the germs are active
- May feel sick and weak
- May experience weight loss, fever and night sweats, coughing, chest pain, and
- Coughing up blood, and can spread the TB germs to others.
Symptoms of the active disease include chest pain, fever, fatigue and a bad cough that lasts at least three weeks. It can usually be completely cured by taking a combination of TB drugs.
The Prince George’s County Health Department is offering free TB testing at Bladensburg High School during the first week of December.
Anyone with questions or concerns should call the department’s Tuberculosis Control Program at (301) 583-3110.